Overspending ‘Cannot Continue’ Says St Martin’s Councillor

town hall 8The Council overspent by “a considerable amount” last year and they “cannot continue in that vein.”

That was the view of St Martin’s councillor Christine Savill during a debate on the 2014/15 accounts at last week’s new Finance, Audit and Scrutiny committee.

Christine said the Authority had taken “a fair bit” from reserves – essentially the Council’s savings account for unexpected spending.

Just under £1.2m was used to cover the overspend last year, taking the reserves down to £850,000, close to the £600,000 limit that the Council has to keep in its bank account.

Most of that was due to the cost of the road resurfacing on St Mary’s, which Christine admitted was “money well spent.”

But Cllr Gordon Bilsborough wanted to know what would now happen if the Council had to unexpectedly pay a large sum of money.

A note in the accounts says there’s a threat of legal proceedings against the Authority and, “it is considered probable that action will be taken.”

But they say it’s not possible to estimate the cost as the detail of the claim hasn’t been made available yet.

Senior Finance Manager Laura Roberts said some councils have had central government step in so they don’t take the brunt of any losses. That happened recently during the severe flooding in the south west.

There were also questions over why this year’s £345,000 education grant hasn’t been allocated yet.

Cllr Savill, who also chairs the Council Children’s Committee, said this should be used for the benefit of the islands’ youngsters.

But she hadn’t seen a breakdown of the budget yet and expressed concern that they were already a quarter of the way through the financial year.

Laura said her department was doing “a considerable amount of work” on this and it was “still ongoing.”

Councillors approved the accounts, which will now be audited over the summer.

Any island ratepayers who have questions about last year’s spending can make an appointment to inspect the accounts before the end of this month by contacting the Town Hall.

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